(1955)

It's a living breathing doll of a musical!

Gambler Nathan Detroit has few options for the location of his big craps game. Needing $1,000 to pay a garage owner to host the game, Nathan bets Sky Masterson that Sky cannot get virtuous Sarah Brown out on a date. Despite some resistance, Sky negotiates a date with her in exchange for bringing people into her mission. Meanwhile, Nathan's longtime fiancée, Adelaide, wants him to go legit and marry her.

I've always been a bad guy, and a bad gambler. From now on, I would like to be a good guy, and a good gambler. I thank you.
Guys and Dolls is directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and collectively adapted to screen from the play by Mankiewicz, Jo Swerling, Abe Burrows and Damon Runyon. It stars Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra, Vivian Blaine, Robert Keith, Stubby Kaye, Sheldon Leonard, B.S. Pully and Johnny Silver. Music is by Frank Loesser and cinematography by Harry Stradling Sr.
Gambler Nathan Detroit (Sinatra) has few options for the location of his big craps game. Needing $1,000 to pay a garage owner to host the game, Nathan bets Sky Masterson (Brando) that Sky cannot get virtuous Sarah Brown (Simmons) out on a date. Despite some resistance, Sky negotiates a date with her in exchange for bringing people into her mission. Meanwhile, Nathan's longtime fiancée, Adelaide (Blaine), wants him to go legit and marry her.
Having never seen the play I have no frame of reference about the transfer to the big screen. Whilst concurring with the strongly held belief that both Brando and Sinatra are indeed miscast, the former a great actor who can barely sing, the latter a great singer given the wrong character role to play, the pic still comes out in credit for joyful entertainment.
Samuel Goldwyn forked out big money to put the source to the silver screen, and it shows as no expense is spared across the production (though Goldwyn was hugely disappointed with the box office returns). The songs are simple but all hit the foot tapping mark, the dancing choreography superb, while the booming colour photography gladdens the eyes. All told, Mankiewicz, directing his first ever musical, does a fine job.
One has to wonder how much better the pic could have been if MGM had of released Gene Kelly to play Sky Masterson, while in truth the pic is 30 minutes too long. Yet with Simmons and Blaine beguiling, and Stubby Kaye superb, it's easy to forgive the flaws and just sit back and enjoy the colourful ride. 7/10

Samuel Goldwyn Productions by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Jo Swerling, Abe Burrows, Damon Runyon.
Stars: Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra.

Genres: Comedy, Crime, Musical

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12/23/1955

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